Publication - FOI/EIR release

Sea Lice Policy - warning and advisory letters, breaches, enforcement notices: EIR release

Published: 31 Oct 2019

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Published:
31 Oct 2019
Sea Lice Policy - warning and advisory letters, breaches, enforcement notices: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02212
Date received: 27 Sep 2019
Date responded: 25 Oct 2019
Information requested

You requested information in relation to the Scottish Government's Sea Lice Policy (https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00547487.pdf) relating to 2019 only, specifically:

1. How many Warning Letters have been issued to finfish farm operator? Please provide copies of each. Please list each of these by operator and by date of issue.

2. How many Advisory Letters have been issued to finfish farm operators? Please provide copies of each. Please list each of these by operator and by date issue.

3. How many breaches of the 2007 Act, as amended, or any subordinate legislation, have been noted by inspectors and/or recorded against finfish farm operators. Please list breaches by operator and 
by farm, indicating clearly any multiple breaches. Please list each of these by operator and by date issue.

4. How many Enforcement Notices have been issued to finfish farm operators? Please provide copies of each. Please list each of these by operator and by date issue.

5. Pursuant to your duty to advise and assist, and with reference to the attached document entitled "FHISealicereporting.xlsx", please outline how the failure of an operator to report a sea lice count, shown as "no count" in the attached, is considered or noted for the purposes of enforcing the Sea Lice Policy. Specifically, what action has been taken by inspectors in each case where a ‘no count’ has been submitted in 2019?

As no attached document was provided through the email I received relating to your request, I confirmed with you in writing, on 27 September 2019, that part 5 of your request refers to the published sea lice information as found on the Marine Scotland website, published in relation to the Scottish Government Sea Lice Policy and the Fish Health Inspectorate’s active publication plan.

Response

For the time period of your request (01 January to 27 September 2019) I can advise you of the following:

1. No Warning Letters have been issued to finfish farm operators.

2. Two Advisory Letters have been issued to finfish farm operators. Please find enclosed a copy of each letter.

3. Records of breaches of the 2007 Act or any subordinate legislation are recorded during surveillance inspections and dealt with in accordance with the FHI strategy on enforcement:
https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/charter

The outcome of this activity is actively published through the FHI publication plan:
https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/CaseInformation

Details of the surveillance visits conducted, involving Sea Lice Inspection (SLI) or Enhanced Sea Lice Inspection (SLA), during 2019 up until 09 October 2019 are attached for your reference. Please refer to the information published through the Fish Health Inspectorate’s active publication plan for further details of any individual case. Please note that cases which have not yet been closed are still awaiting publication.

4. No Enforcement Notices have been issued to finfish farm operators.

While we provide information where possible, in this case two exceptions, under regulation 11(2) (personal data) and under regulation 10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information) apply to some of the information requested. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in Annex 1 to this letter.

Your request also raised a question, at point 5, concerning sea lice counts shown as “no count” within the document you attached. Specifically you asked about the actions taken by inspectors in such cases where a “no count” has been submitted.

This part of your request does not fall under the scope of a request for information as such as it is more relevant to operational policy. Regardless, I shall deal with it through this response.

In the FHI Sea lice reporting record, ‘No count’ refers to an occasion where an operator reports that no count is available for that week. This may be due to a number of reasons such as veterinary advice, inclement weather, husbandry operations etc. Under the Fish Farming Businesses (Record Keeping) (Scotland) Order 2008, Aquaculture Production Businesses are required to record ‘the reason for not conducting a weekly count of parasites in the event that such a count is not undertaken in any week.’ These records are inspected during routine sea lice inspection and enhanced sea lice inspection visits with the outcome actively published through the FHI publication plan.

Annex - Reasons for not providing information
Exceptions apply:

Regulation 11(2)
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

Regulation 10(4)(d)
In addition, an exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion. The information to which this exception applies relates to surveillance inspections associated with some Sea Lice Inspections or Enhanced Sea Lice Inspections whereby those individual cases have not yet been completed and closed. In these circumstances, these cases require some further action by either the case inspector, the company or site operators to whom the case applies. Only then can the information in the case be verified and completed, before the case can be reported on, closed and actively published in accordance with the FHI publication plan. We have provided you with a list of information identifying those cases still in the course of completion, in order that this can facilitate your further searching of published material, in due course.

This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and this will be met, in due course, by our planned publication through the FHI active publication plan:
https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Fish-Shellfish/FHI/CaseInformation

The release of incomplete or unfinished information, in this case, is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that such information which is still being worked on and is under active consideration is not disclosed when it might misinform the public or give a misleading impression of the outcome of the surveillance activity conducted and to which the information relates.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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